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Showing posts from October, 2010

Sermon on Luke 18:9-17, for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, "Who is Approved by God?"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector that you heard in the Gospel reading contrasts two men who came to the Temple to pray. But the parable is more than just about teaching us the right way to pray. Jesus told this parable to a crowd of people who “trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” This attitude is sometimes described as “Pharisee-ism.” A self-confidence in your own righteousness—thinking that you’re better than others because of what you’ve done or they haven’t. The parable that Jesus taught helps us to see why the sinful tax collector received God’s approval while the Pharisee didn’t. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

When the Pharisee came to pray, it wasn’t even really a prayer that came out of his mouth. While he addressed God, it wasn’t really for any other reason than to boast about himself. Thank God I’m not like…

Gospel Gaps

“Can you hear me now?” We’ve probably all heard the mildly annoying cell phone advertisements on TV and radio that claim one provider has better “coverage” then the next company. The idea is that you don’t want to be caught in gaps where there is no cell phone coverage, or where your calls might be dropped. Certainly on Maui with our high mountains, any cell phone user has experienced losing coverage on the way to Lahaina or Hana, or other “gaps” where there are no broadcast towers, or the signal is interfered with or spotty.

As I’m composing this newsletter, I’m returning from our Fall Pastor’s Conference in Minden, Nevada, where our presenter spoke about “Church Simple.” The speaker was President Randy Golter, of the Rocky Mountain District churches of our LCMS. He spoke about the simplicity of what the church is: God speaking and the church hearing. The church is created by God speaking to us in Christ, and gathering us together as His body to hear and believe His Word. The church …

Sermon on 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, for the 21st Sunday after Pentecost, "God-breathed"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. “The time is coming…” the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor. “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” Well it shouldn’t take much convincing for us to realize that that time is now here. We already live in the time Paul described, where people will not listen to or tolerate sound teaching, but gather around them teachers that will say what their itching ears want to hear. Today Paul’s words to Timothy call us to make sure we are listening to the God-breathed Word of holy Scripture, which is vital for our spiritual health today. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

So are we really living in “those times” when people won’t listen to sound teaching,…

Sermon on Luke 17:11-19, for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Preschool Sunday, "Have Mercy on us!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Welcome again to Emmanuel, and thanks to our preschoolers for their memory work and song, and for parents and family supporting your children as they worship God. Today’s sermon is from the story of the ten leprous men who were healed, and the one who returned to give thanks to Jesus. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Although it’s a few thousand years from the time of Jesus, and many thousands of miles from Israel to Hawaii, the circumstances of ten leprous men aren’t so distant and unfamiliar to us here in Hawaii. The leper colony at Kalaupapa is part of the recent memory of Hawaii, although in Bible times the word leprosy included a much broader range of skin diseases and rashes than what we now call Hansen’s disease. For about 100 years, people suffering from Hansen’s were banished to an existence of poverty and isolation. One woman exiled to K…

Sermon on Luke 17:1-10, for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, "Increase Our Faith!"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today’s Gospel reading contains a few basic teachings about discipleship, or what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Although it was especially the teaching about forgiveness that caused the apostles to respond to Jesus: “Increase our faith!”—each one of these teachings will challenge our faith. So let our prayer today and always be: “Lord, Increase our Faith!” Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus begins by pointing out that it’s unavoidable that temptations to sin will come. Jesus isn’t saying that temptation itself is unavoidable, because we’re promised that when we’re tempted, God is faithful not to let us be tempted beyond our ability to bear it. There will never arise a situation where we simply cannot help but give in. God will always provide a way of escape, so that we can endure it (1 Cor. 10:13). C.S. Lewis wrote about this Bible passa…